Robert Wexler, a US Congressman and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Indonesia Caucus has nominated the Indonesian President Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for the Nobel Peace Prize 2006, based on the peace foundation he had laid out with the Aceh Free Movement and signed in Helsinki on 25 August 2005. The Congressman also mentioned that the people of Indonesia had endured many hardships during SBY’s first year in office, most notably was the devastating tsunami disaster on 26 December 2004 that perished over one hundred and sixty thousand lives. However despite the natural disasters and political and economic turmoil, the administration was unswayed in restoring the peace in Aceh and committed to solve several issues like the Avian Flu.
The news came this Sunday and I wonder whether these grounds are sufficient to nominate SBY for the Nobel Prize. Although the peace in Aceh has been “partially” restored and everything now seems “in order”, still the Aceh Free Movement (GAM) is given too many concessions to substitute the ceasefire. Recent MoU between GAM and a Malaysian company for the natural resources exploration is a proof that the government’s bargaining position is weak considering that those resources should be controlled by the government for the benefit of the people. Still the potentiality of conflict is there and the government cannot fully exercise their power because they have to consider GAM’s opinion, and worse, yield to the final decision of the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) which comprised mainly by members of ASEAN and EU; so the foreigners are practically interfering with Indonesia’s internal issues.
Aceh is not only the main issues that we have to deal. Fuel and electricity has pushed the people to the limit when we have to bear a 100% increment despite the current chaotic economy. The industrial sector is not given much priviledge to export goods with competitive price because of the tax rates and under table money paid to the customs. The housing in slum areas are also wiped out to make way for the construction of shopping malls and the health and welfare facilities do little to help them.
As an Indonesian citizen I truly appreciate Mr. Wexler’s recommendation to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee. However I also think that we must consider broader perspectives if we want to nominate SBY for the Nobel Prize. What he has done so far is considered remarkable because he had laid some significant foundations for further development of the country. But it is still too early to reward or judge his performance based on one-year experience only. We must carefully watch his administration and give positive and constructive feedback to the policies they make, especially the policies that affect our welfare directly.
Mr. President, I appreciate your best efforts put out during your first year in office. But I prefer to watch over more of your performance before I give you my reward, through 1 vote in 2009’s General Election!